Tag: MOMA

5 for ’10

A new year always implies a fresh start. Those starts are always available to us whenever we so choose, but there’s something so fortifying about coinciding our personal beginnings with chronological ones, as if once a year, people (or those following the Julian calendar anyway) decide, en masse, that they can influence the course of their lives through resolution, faith, commitment, and an embrace of potential. Would that this attitude could last to Easter, when the real promise of renewal has never been made so plain for Western society.

In any case, people seem to love lists -to debate, to ponder, to look back and to measure one’s thoughts and accomplishments against. Should that movie be there? Why wasn’t that album included? What happened to that book? We measure our lives, our personal triumphs and tragedies, which seem to be both timeless and weighted to a specific moment, against such lists. I was equally heartened and amused to see possibilities for potential laid out in one particular list; some of the items are foolhardy, some are curious, some are inspired -but the spirit behind them all is, I think, genuine, and the spark of springy hopefulness is encouraging in these dour midwinter days.

So, as before, here is a list -a personal one -of things I am looking forward to in 2010:

More Live Music
While I am not a particularly big fan of club gigs (I never really was -comes with being raised in opera houses, I suppose) there are a few acts I’m hoping to see (and blog about) this year, including The Big Pink and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I was introduced to the former by a fellow twitterati with exquisite music taste who saw them in an early-winter gig here in Toronto and was suitably impressed; having heard The Big Pink’s stuff on the radio both prior and following that concert, I’ve become entranced by their marriage of old and new sounds. This is rock and roll you can dance to. I like that. And… BRMC? Dirty, good, loud. I’ll take it.

Pop Life
Happening at the National Gallery of Canada in June, this exhibit is featuring works of my very-favourites, including Tracey Emin, Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, and (sigh!) Keith Haring. It’s only January but I’m already excited. I can think of no other group of artists who have so changed the modern cultural landscape -and in so doing, altered the way we experience culture and its relationship to the everyday mundane reality of daily life. Thank you, National Gallery!

MOMAhhh
Still in the art vein, the venerable New York City art museum is hosting an exhibit of the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the first in the US in three decades. Exploring the entirety of the master photographer’s career, Cartier-Bresson was, and remains, one of my all-time favourites. I recall studying his works in film school many moons ago, and being drawn in by the inherent drama within his photographs. Suitably, MOMA’s website calls him “the keenest observer of the global theater of human affairs”. Yes, his work is indeed theatrical, but it’s also fleshily, gorgeously human and sensuously alive. If this doesn’t push me on to visit France at last, I don’t know what will.

Prima Donna
Presented as part of the 2010 Luminato Festival, “Prima Donna” will receive its North American premiere this June. Awesome Canadian singer/songwriter/all-around music god Rufus Wainwright channels his own inner diva and his passion for the operatic form in creating a work about the fictional faded opera star Regine and the re-examination of her life choices. When it debuted in Manchester last July, the New York Times called the music “impressionistic yet neo-medieval, tinged with modal harmonies”. Hopefully I’ll be interviewing the heavenly-voiced Mr. Wainwright about it closer to the opening. Stay tuned.

Toot Toot
I feel like there’s a big piece of me I’ve been hiding away that should probably come out. In that vein, I’m going to be posting my artwork, photography, and video interviews more often. This video is a favourite from last year. It’s about the award-winning production of “Eternal Hydra” by Crow’s Theatre:

So here’s to embracing… everything… which is everything, after all. I think Lauryn Hill expresses it best:

after winter / must come spring / change it comes / eventually

Slow / Now

A current, entirely-wonderful program at New York’s Museum of Modern Art takes the basic ideas of slow food and applies them to art. “Could you spend one hour looking at just one painting?” its Twitter feed asks. Actually, yes. I have done, and it’s an intensely enjoyable experience.

When I lived in London, I used to go to the National Portrait Gallery on my lunch breaks and visit the beautiful series of poet portraits that hung in the Romantics section. I recall a good forty-five minutes vanishing as I’d sit gazing at Byron, Shelley, and Blake.

Later when I moved back to Toronto, I’d take advantage of the Art Gallery of Ontario‘s free Wednesday evenings (it was and remains a bit of a shock to me to pay admission, so utterly spoiled was I by London’s free galleries and museums). I would go directly to the small but lovely collection of Monet paintings, where I would sit and gaze silently, worshipping shape, colour, texture, the magic of the rich, gooey shades changing form and implication with my own positioning, the gallery’s lighting, and even how many people were or were not crowding around the painting with me. I loved spending this slow, meditative time with art. I don’t do it enough anymore. There’s always another event to get to, another work to see. My leaning toward Pop and abstract art, with its sometimes-bouncy, breezy energies and kinetic shapes and sparky ideas, frequently mocks and milks the ‘faster-stronger-higher’ ethos of contemporary society, but such works demand equal amounts of care, contemplation, and stillness.


It’s hard for me to say if one form of art or era lends itself better than another to slow art, or if it should. I’m sure it’s personal. But in this world of instant gratification and simple solutions, it’s nice to find the slow-down-and-smell-the-flowers ethos being applied to so many facets of culture. I’m reminded of a line I heard in a production of Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears, on now in Toronto. Sholom Aleichem (real name Sholom Yakov Rabinovitz) was a Yiddish writer from Eastern Europe who wrote numerous stories focusing on the day-to-day live of his fellow Jews in the late 19th century. From these tales sprang the beloved character of Tevye the Milkman who populates many of Aleichem’s stories, and is the protective father in Fiddler on the Roof; it’s no irony that Theodore Bikel, who has played Tevye thousands of times, is performing as Aleichem. The production is a slow if loving meditation on the nature of writing, and performing, taking into account the importance of culture, community, and family. Aleichem comes from a world where concepts of “instant” and “faster” are unknown; things are steeped and brewed in the long, slow-moving stream of cultural lore long before they fully ripen. The line, delivered towards the end of the show, invites us to embrace the idea of accepting “fewer answers in life, and more questions.” How wonderful. And how very exemplary of the Slow Movement.

It’s an old idea, but it still resonates: it isn’t the destination, it’s the footsteps; it isn’t the result, it’s the journey. In trying times, we all want to cling to the familiar, the knowable, the easy and yes, the fast. But these aren’t the things that are going to feed us. Just as deep hunger is not satiated with greasy fast food, our spiritual, emotional, and cultural needs (I’d argue they’re all one in the same) aren’t satisfied with simple answers. And so it behooves us to accept the questions -and perhaps, us exemplifying those questions. The Museum of Modern Art seems to understand this; we’re not only looking, we’re in the process of becoming. Nothing can be more timely, or timeless.

My Definition …

This is very inspiring.

And I think Michelle Obama is absolutely correct. I hope we get a Canadian politician in power making the same statement soon.

Reason #1 I need to go to New York

The Museum of Modern Art is one of my very-favourite places in the world. You can wander there for hours, and every corner has something that turns your thinking upside down, and makes you look at the world, and your place in it, in a whole new, refreshing light. It currently has two exhibits I want to see.

First, The Pictures Generation, featuring the work of Cindy Sherman, among others. Sherman’s a big favourite of mine. So irreverent, funny, and unabashedly female.

Second, Tangled Alphabets. I love writing. I love art. I love art about writing. I’ve been staring at Mira Schendel‘s work all week now and her beautiful collection of letters are spelling out something like: C-o-m-e h-e-r-e. N-O-W.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén